Harry’s summer holidays
The bouncy castles have been deflated. The kids are back at school.
The kids are back at school and, p’raps, an English teacher has assigned a warm-up project: write an essay telling how you spent your summer holidays.
Because there are scraps of such assignments still slopping around in my noggin like flotsam lapping wharf pilings, I’ve decided to join the kids and speak of how Dearest Duck and I spent a portion of our summer holidays. Here goes. In early August we flew to Prince George to visit Daddy’s Boy.
Despite my Zen colouring book, I sobbed profusely during the final leg of the trip. Not because of fear of flying, but because of the constant pain in my double-T butt — or, more precisely, the pain in the hip that will require a replacement joint if I remain on this planet much longer.
“Harry, my pantywaist honey,” said Dearest Duck high above the blue Canadian Rockies, “stop whimpering and suck it up.”
I did and eventually we pitched in Prince George…
… where Dearest Duck’s lucky streak began.
Neither jetlag nor the miseries lingering in my butt had completely faded before Daddy’s Boy took us to a neighbourhood pub for discount wings, on-tap beverages, and continuing games of Keno.
When she won $10 on the first batch of Keno numbers, Dearest Duck screamed more shrilly than she did when she saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” What? Beatles? Ed Sullivan? Eons ago, eh b’ys? Half way through a plate of wings, Dearest screamed even more stridently when she won another $10.
For the remainder of the evening, Dearest Duck’s repeated screams startled the pub’s patrons until management’s face commenced to scowl.
I failed to win a sou. I did ruin my brand new Mark’s shirt with a glob of teriyaki sauce when Dearest’s flailing ticket-holding hand knocked a sticky wing away from my chops.
Two days later Dearest Duck won again.
This time Daddy’s Boy’s honey coaxed Dearest Duck into participating in a dial-in radio contest.
Dearest provided the correct answer to some topical question and won two passes to the local agricultural fair. Needless to say, screaming and leaping about on the living room rug followed.
Yes, of course, we went to the fair.
Dearest Duck handed her free passes to a couple of needy-looking kids outside the ticket booth saying, “Harry, don’t pout, we’ll buy seniors’ tickets.”
Sure, Dearest Duck screamed on all the rides, accompanied by the free-pass kids, while — using the residual ache in my double-T as an excuse — I refused to stand in a single line.
I did, however, wander off to the barns where I managed to step in a recently released pile of pig’s poop, completely stogging the treads of the brand new holiday hikers I’d bought the previous day at — where else? — Mark’s.
Dearest Duck may have had all the holiday fun, but she had none of the fame.
foreign-province holiday ended fame was mine.
On the final day of our visit I trailed Dearest Duck as she shopped for souvenirs. Eventually, she towed me to a strip mall where I stood as patiently as a post holding the sack of purchased souvenirs while Dearest poked about in this store and that store…
… until she arrived at the checkout of an establishment called Spruceland News.
“You folks are not from Prince George,” the clerk informed us.
“No,” said Dearest Duck while I remained still post-like with the souvenir sack. “We’re from Newfoundland.”
Instead of making some remark about our accents, the clerk said, “Oh, that’s nice. We sell Newfoundland’s Downhome magazine.” Fame had walked in the door. “Imagine,” said Dearest Duck. Then she pointed to me. “Harry writes for Downhome,” she said, then flipped through the current issue to show my smiling chops. Fame breathed down my neck. “Goodness,” said the clerk. “We’re holding a copy of Downhome for a man who comes in from Smithers.” She shuffed his copy towards me. “Will you autograph it for him?”
Fame clamped on to my kincorn. “Really?” I managed to croak. My head swoll up like a lump fish’s puddick, I accepted the clerk’s pen and with a trembling hand scrawled my name.
Unbeknownst to me, Dearest Duck took a snap with her iPhone of me bent over the counter, my right hand…well, writing…my left hand still holding the souvenir sack swinging like a pendulum.
The snap would be suitable for my brand new Wall of Fame if only Dearest Duck had reminded me to lodge down the sack.
She might have said, “Put down the bag,” for frig sake, eh b’ys?
Thank you for reading.
Compass columnist Harry Walters signs a copy of Downhome at a souvenir shop in British Columbia. A clerk at the store asked him to sign it for a customer after she learned Harry is a regular contributor to the magazine.